Linebacker Will Davis is still around. His friend, linebacker Cody Brown, is not.
Will Davis and Cody Brown were practically inseparable.
Until, of course, they were separated.
They were the two linebackers out of the 2009 draft the Cardinals wanted to develop. Brown, the second-rounder, seemed a surer bet. Then he wasn't, first derailed by a broken wrist in the 2009 preseason and then an inability to progress on the field when he came back. Not that the two of them – fast friends since the day they arrived together – saw it coming.
In the preseason – before final cuts -- they had watched an episode of "Hard Knocks" which a player had gotten released. They thought about the notion, although both thought they were safe.
"It was a shock to everybody," Davis said. "The funny thing is, we had talked about it before, how crazy it is to get cut from the time you get touched on the shoulder to the time you talk to your agent and he's trying to calm you down and tell you what your options are, because you are in no-man's land. It helps you realize you better not take anything for granted."
Davis was the sixth-round pick who showed the Cards enough as a rookie that they still have hopes he can turn into another Clark Haggans – whom Davis is backing up for now. Actually, Davis is backing up both outside spots, since the depth there remains thin.
(The Cards did sign veteran Alex Hall Tuesday, and there is a chance rookie O'Brien Schofield will still play later this season).
If anything, the story of Davis and Brown serve as a cautionary tale of any player who might get too comfortable on this roster (and I suppose it was underscored again by the sudden release of quarterback Matt Leinart as well). Davis was crushed his friend was let go – when Brown came downstairs after getting cut and held up the piece of paper that signified that release, Davis admitted he still didn't believe Brown was going anywhere – but relieved he had survived.
"They say from the first training camp, people are competing for spots and they don't care where you came from," Davis said. "You could come from under a trash can for all they care. They care about how you prepare on the field and how you retain things, things like that. When Cody was cut, it was shock, but here, the best person plays and everyone realizes that."
Brown landed on the Jets' practice squad and Davis stays in touch. Tuesday, when he and Brown likely would have been working out together, Davis had a pair of headphones while lifting weights.
As a player, the friends come and go. The business never stops.
THE BEANIE IMPACT
One of the big storylines of the week won't play out until Sunday – how much running back Beanie Wells can play, and how well he can play. Wells should practice this week but he hasn't done anything team-wise since he was hurt in the preseason finale Sept. 2. Even coach Ken Whisenhunt said Beanie "has got to show me in practice" what he is able to do before any decisions are made about playing time.
The question becomes how quickly Wells can be meshed into the offense, when a) Tim Hightower has had a pretty good start to the season, and b) the Cards are still trying to sort out the pass game (and pass protection) and Hightower is the best guy for blitz pickup.
Trusting a rusty Wells to block in some situations may be difficult to ask. It may keep Beanie on the sideline more often, at least in the beginning.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs three receptions Sunday to supplant Larry Centers with the second-most receptions in franchise history. Centers had 535 catches. Anquan Boldin is the all-time franchise leader with 586.
Running back Tim Hightower is averaging 7.0 yards a carry, the best mark in the NFL for backs with at least 20 attempts. Hightower has 169 yards on 24 carries this season.
Including the playoffs, the Cardinals have rushed for at least 100 yards as a team in 10 of their past 13 games.
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